Speed Reads

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VA Secretary David Shulkin has an armed guard outside his office to protect him from his own staff

Things are getting messy at the Department of Veterans Affairs.

In a large and unsettling report about the inner-workings of the VA published Friday, The Washington Post reveals that the department's internecine squabbling has gotten so bad that VA Secretary David Shulkin has taken dramatic action to shield himself from his own advisers:

[Shulkin] is managing the government's second-largest bureaucracy from a fortified bunker atop the agency's Washington headquarters.

He has canceled the morning meetings once attended by several of President Trump's political appointees — members of his senior management team — gathering instead with aides he trusts not to miscast his remarks. Access to Shulkin's 10th-floor executive suite was recently revoked for several people he has accused of lobbying the White House to oust him. He and his public-affairs chief have not spoken in weeks.

And in a sign of how deeply the secretary's trust in his senior staff has eroded, an armed guard now stands outside his office. [The Washington Post]

Perhaps the armed freeze-out isn't unexpected, though, given Shulkin has been public with his desire to clean house at the department. Last month, Shulkin told Politico that he was investigating "subversion" within his group, with the intent that anyone who disobeys him "won't be working in my operation."

"This is a salacious conspiracy, and it's treason," the national director of the country's largest veterans group told the Post about the department's dysfunction under Shulkin, who served as an undersecretary at the VA in the Obama administration. Read more about the troubled VA at The Washington Post.